‘Lilibet’s birth will be a powerful reminder for Harry and Meghan that they made the right choice to leave’

·6-min read
 (Shutterstock / Cubankite)
(Shutterstock / Cubankite)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced the birth of their second child. The seven pound 11 ounce Lilibet was born on Friday 4 June at 11:40am at Santa Barbara Cottage hospital. Harry and Meghan, who are now taking parental leave, shared a message about their daughter on the Archewell website saying “she is more than we could have ever imagined”.

Lili, as Baby Sussex is being called, is a sentimental nod to her royal roots: Harry’s grandmother Her Majesty The Queen, who was called Lilibet by her father King George and husband Prince Philip, and a touching tribute to his “beloved” mother Diana, the late Princess of Wales. Lili, who will have dual British and UK citizenship, is eighth in line to the throne following her brother Archie Harrison who turned two in May.

In a warm show of support and family unity, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “The Queen, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, and The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge have been informed and are delighted with the news”. While Prince William and Kate also posted a loving message about their niece: “We are all delighted by the happy news of the arrival of baby Lili. Congratulations to Harry, Meghan and Archie.”

The child will be a heartwarming gift for the Queen following the loss of Prince Philip

Lilibet Diana is the Queen’s eleventh great-grandchild joining a handful of others born in 2021; Princess Eugenie’s son August, Zara Tindall’s son Lucas, and Princess Beatrice’s first child who is due in the autumn. The child will be a heartwarming gift for Her Majesty following the loss of Prince Philip who would have celebrated his 100th birthday on Thursday.

Unlike Archie whose birth was posted on an easel at Buckingham Palace, Baby Sussex was born with little fanfare, in a break with tradition, and in keeping with Prince Harry and Meghan’s wish for greater privacy since stepping back as senior members of the royal family. The Independent understands that some royal family members were informed about Lili’s birth in advance of their announcement but the Sussexes in their new role were able to enjoy quality time with their growing family without press intrusion for two full days.

Just last month, Prince Harry compared his life to being a caged animal calling it a “mix between the Truman Show and living in a zoo”. The realisation that the couple could enjoy two uninterrupted days enjoying the first magical moments with their newborn daughter will without doubt be a potent reminder for Harry and Meghan reinforcing their decision to step back and live the life they craved away from the royal goldfish bowl.

No obligatory photocall at Windsor Castle, similar to the Cambridge’s public introduction of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis on the steps of the Lindo Wing. Harry and Meghan were able to announce the news on their own timetable and their own terms.

But will their daughter’s birth be another bridge to help reunite the family?

Their “rainbow baby” (a term used to describe children born to parents who have previously suffered a miscarriage or loss) - which Meghan wrote eloquently about in a New York Times editorial following her miscarriage - will be their last child. Asked about whether they intended to have more children by environmentalist Jane Goodall in 2019, Harry said “two maximum”. More recently they told Oprah: “To have a boy and then a girl—what more could you ask for? Now we’ve got our family. We’ve got the four of us, we’ve got our two dogs. Done.”

It has been a difficult year for the Windsor family with the Sussexes’ decision to step back for a more private life in California; the candid revelations from the Oprah interview; and the loss of Prince Philip, the family’s stalwart and much-loved patriarch. The arrival of Harry and Meghan’s second child will no doubt bring great joy to the Queen. But will their daughter’s birth be another bridge to help reunite the family?

Relationships have been at an all time low, but the official statement in response to the Oprah interview left no doubt that while “recollections may vary”, the Queen’s love for her grandson and his family remains steadfast. The family also put their differences aside to support the Queen during Harry’s return for his grandfather’s funeral at St George’s Chapel in April. Kate’s efforts to make Harry feel welcome - he once described her as the sister he never had - were the first step in bringing the once inseparable brothers together to start the process of healing.

This weekend another olive branch was extended. Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, revealing that she had a “lengthy chat” with Harry following The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral and despite the ups and downs of the last few months told The Telegraph: “We are still a family no matter what happens, we always will be”.

Princess of Wales with Prince Harry (PA)
Princess of Wales with Prince Harry (PA)

Next month William and Harry will celebrate their mother’s life on what would have been Princess Diana’s 60th birthday - as Harry returns to the UK for the unveiling of a statue at Kensington Palace. A friend of Harry’s shared with The Independent that “both brothers are deeply devoted to carrying on their late mother’s legacy and nothing will get in the way of that”.

Much of Diana’s legacy was in the philanthropic work after her divorce, and it is clear that Harry and Meghan long to continue this duty. The pair famously said that “service is universal” and as they lay out their plans for the future - particularly their non-profit Archewell foundation - we will see more of this.

Harry and Meghan’s decision to name their daughter after Her Majesty, is a poignant reminder about the depth of Harry’s love and respect

Harry and Meghan’s decision to name their daughter after Her Majesty, is a poignant reminder about the depth of Harry’s love and respect for his grandmother and his ties to home. He and Meghan have stated their desire to remain devoted public servants, and as royal broadcaster Peter Hunt tweeted “are making clear they are very much part of the Windsor dynasty.”

For the Sussexes, this moment will have been a reminder that all the sacrifices they made to achieve their independence were not without a cost, but perhaps worthwhile nonetheless. The Duke and Duchess vision of a “half in half out model” may not not have been viable when they first made their decision to step back as senior royals, but their goal clearly remains to live a life of duty and service upholding the values of Her Majesty.

The success of the Monarchy has been its ability to survive and adapt. No one has done that better than Her Majesty, the longest reigning monarch. While the family begins the slow process of healing and forgiveness following Harry and Meghan’s recent revelations contrasted with the happiness of Lili’s birth, the House of Windsor still has an unparalleled opportunity to create a unique role inside the Firm for the young family.

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